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The OWSD - Elsevier Foundation Awards for Early Career Women Scientists in the Developing World

The call for applications for the 2022 Awards is now closed. Please check back in 2022 for the 2023 Awards.

Download the awards pamphlet

This information is also available in:       French          Spanish

The OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Awards for Early Career Women Scientists reward and encourage women working and living in developing countries who are in the early stages of their scientific careers, having often overcome great challenges to achieve research excellence. Awardees must have made a demonstrable impact on the research environment, both at a regional and international level, and must have received their PhD in the last ten years.

The awards programme grew out of a one-time award given in 2011 by OWSD, the Elsevier Foundation and TWAS, the World Academy of Sciences, which was given to 11 early career women from developing countries working in STEM subjects. In 2013, the awards programme was launched, with the number of awards reduced to 5 per year on a three-year rotation of award categories. The eligible scientific disciplines for each year were organized into general fields: Biological sciences; Engineering, innovation & technology; and Physical sciences.

After ten years of celebrating women in science, in 2021 we have decided to re-focus the awards to respond to the call for action set forth by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The number of awards will continue to be 5 per year (one from each OWSD region plus one additional outstanding candidate) for a period of five years (2022 – 2026).

The new awards cycle will follow a five-year rotation, and applications will be open for scientists working to advance knowledge in the following research areas:

  • 2022 Awards: Climate action and the environment (SDG13SDG14 or SDG15) - applications in 2021
  • 2023 Awards: Food Security, agricultural productivity and sustainable food production (SDG2) - applications in 2022
  • 2024 Awards: Water, sanitation and hygiene (SDG6) - applications in 2023
  • 2025 Awards: Inclusive Health (SDG3) - applications in 2024
  • 2026 Awards: Sustainable, affordable and reliable energy (SDG7) - applications in 2025

The awards seek applications from women researchers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)- and how they intersect with the aforementioned SDGs. The eligible scientific fields are as follows:

  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Astronomy, Space and Earth Sciences
  • Biological Systems and Organisms
  • Chemical Sciences
  • Computing and Information Technology
  • Engineering Sciences
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Medical and Health Sciences (including Neurosciences)
  • Physics
  • Structural, Cell and Molecular Biology

The selection committee will be looking for excellent science of relevance to and with a demonstrable impact in the developing world. Innovative techniques or methodologies (especially with regard to sustainable development) will be favourably considered. Applications that demonstrate an awareness of the importance of sex and/or gender considerations in research methodology and content may be prioritised. Additionally, researchers are encouraged to demonstrate interdisciplinary collaboration within the natural sciences, but also with the social sciences and humanities.

Each winner will receive a cash prize of USD 5,000 which will be awarded during a special networking ceremony to be held at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), held every year in February in the U.S.A. All expenses will be covered for the 5-day trip (including registration and attendance of the conference, return airfare, hotel accommodation and visa costs). During the AAAS meeting, awardees will be able to attend workshops and sessions at the AAAS meeting, visit local laboratories and institutions, and attend a celebratory dinner organized by the Elsevier Foundation. The meeting is an important opportunity to establish contacts and build networks with colleagues from different parts of the world.

The OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Awards have an important impact on local research cultures. Previous winners say the awards have had a powerful effect, enhancing the visibility of their past work and creating new opportunities for the future. The awardees are also powerful role models for young women in science.

"Because of this Award and the international recognition, I am more confident, accountable and motivated to continue my research activities in order to achieve my goals. It will inspire many younger ladies in this region to achieve more in the advancement of sciences." -  Dr. Tista Prasai Joshi (Nepal), 2019 awardee.

Find a list of all previous awardees here.

The call for applications for the OWSD-EF Awards usually launches in June and closes at the end of August.


OWSD Secretariat

Phone: +39 040 2240530  


2021 Awards - virtual ceremony


2020 Awards - Seattle, Washington



2019 Awards -  Washington, D.C.






















2018 Awards -  Austin, Texas



2017 Awards -  Boston, Massachusetts



2016 Awards - Washington , D.C.



2015 Awards - San Jose, California



2014 Awards - Chicago, Illinois



2013 Awards - Boston, Massachusetts



2011 Awards - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



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